Carly Fiorina’s Climate Flip-Flop

It’s fine for Republicans to express concern about climate change—as long as they don’t run for national office, it seems.

Take the case of Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard executive and adviser to the McCain ’08 campaign who is now seeking to unseat Barbara Boxer from her California Senate seat next year. I talked to Fiorina last year when she was the “Victory Chair” of the Republican National Committee specifically about climate change. At the time, she was happy to talk about McCain’s climate plan and the need to act on the issue. “I think there is growing consensus that the issues of climate change and energy independence are inextricably linked,” said Fiorina.

Climate change, Fiorina said, “matters to a lot of people,” particularly young people. She was eager to talk about the notion that climate policy could help stimulate innovation and create jobs, and that a well-executed cap-and-trade scheme could spur economic development. “I think it’s important that when we think about taking on some of the great challenges now as opposed to leaving them to future generations, we have to talk not only about Social Security and medical care, but also about leaving our planet cleaner for the next generation than we found it,” she said.

Flash forward to an interview with reporters in D.C. last week, in which Fiorina basically shied away from all of those prior statements. While she acknowledged that climate change is a “serious issue,” she also suggested the science on warming is less than conclusive—and that the public needs leaders with the “courage” to question it.

From the Mercury News:

Fiorina faced several questions about climate change, an issue in which Boxer is deeply involved. The Republican said that global warming demands a serious response, but when asked whether she would back mandatory caps on carbon emissions, Fiorina said she would not comment on a bill she hasn’t read. As for what course of action she believes the government should take, Fiorina suggested engaging in bilateral talks with China to curb greenhouse gases, and easing regulations for alternative energy companies to build manufacturing plants.

When a reporter followed up by asking whether she believes in global warming, Fiorina said, “I think we should have the courage to examine the science on an ongoing basis.”

Glad that courage is being used up to question climate science, rather than to buck the GOP party line on climate policies.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Give a Year of the Truth

at our special holiday rate

just $12

Order Now

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.